‘Keep watch’, he says,
but weighted lids pull me down
into the dark, deaf waters of sleep
and I drift – yielding consciousness…
Then strain to resurface again
to what’s unfolding.

He kneels, a stone’s-throw close,
his pleading just perceptible.
Yet he is far-off:
unreachable in his anguish.

As I sink back into the swaddle of sleep
I sense betrayal close.
Then voices and torchlight
yank me to the surface –
suddenly alert.

Now, he is calm –
a still centre
in the uproar.

Fear’s chill seeps into me –
for he foretold denial:
will I have the courage to stay true?

Piers Northam
Holy Thursday 2022

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